Usually, no. In most cases, you can only file a personal injury lawsuit and get compensation for your pain and suffering if you also suffered a physical injury.
For example, if you were nearly hit by a car, or witnessed your child or spouse being hit by a car, the experience was likely extremely traumatic. But without any injuries, it can be difficult to impossible to file an injury lawsuit and get compensation for your emotional suffering.
Some states allow victims to sue for intentional or negligent infliction of emotional distress without having any injuries, but Georgia and Alabama generally DO NOT allow this type of lawsuit, even when it seems illogical or heartless to deny compensation to the traumatized victim.
However, if you have questions about whether you’re eligible for compensation, our firm offers free consultations and is happy to discuss your options with you.
Why Can’t I Get Compensation in Georgia for Pain and Suffering Alone?
The purpose of compensation in a personal injury case is to pay you back for all your losses after an accident. When you have injuries, you’ll have medical bills and pay stubs that prove exactly what you lost down to the cent. But pain and suffering are called “non-economic” or “general” damages—damages that don’t have a specific dollar value attached to them. It’s a lot harder to prove that you’ve suffered losses for these, because they are based on the impact on your life, not a bill from a doctor.
So while the consequences of your pain and suffering are real, and may impact your enjoyment of life and your relationships with friends, family, and coworkers, there is no easy or concrete way to determine what you are owed. A broken finger suffered by a typist is probably more significant than a broken finger on a lawyer.
In personal injury cases, non-economic damages like pain and suffering are sometimes given a dollar value by multiplying your economic damages by insurance company adjusters and lawyers who don’t think very hard about the impact on your life. For example, the amount you are owed for your pain could be calculated by taking what you are owed for medical expenses and multiplying it by five. But when there is no medical treatment, there are no economic damages, and insurance companies think that this means it is worth zero.
When Can I Get Compensation for Emotional Distress in Georgia?
Georgia allows for victims of accidents to get compensation for their emotional distress when:
- There is a physical impact.
- The physical impact causes physical injury.
- The physical injury is the direct cause of the emotional distress.
ALL THREE need to apply before a victim can get compensation. This is called the ‘Impact Rule.”
Are There Exceptions to Georgia’s Impact Rule?
Yes, there are exceptions where a victim can get compensation for emotional distress resulting from someone else’s injury. However, these exceptions usually still require the person filing for compensation to also have been injured themselves in the same incident.
First, if a parent and child are BOTH injured because of someone else’s negligence, and the child dies from their injuries, THEN the parent can get compensation for the emotional distress of witnessing their child die.
Second, if two people are BOTH injured because of someone else’s negligence (such as a driver and their passenger in an auto wreck), the passenger can sue for compensation for emotional distress over the driver’s injuries or death (or vice versa) if they can prove they had medical expenses (and thus losses) because of their emotional distress, usually because they required mental health treatment.
Consortium damages are also allowed when a spouse is injured and the relationship is damaged.
Nevertheless, it can still be tough to win these types of claims in Georgia. If you’ve been through a traumatic experience or witnessed the death of a loved one, contact our firm right away. Our lawyers will listen to your story with compassion and walk you through your options to get compensation for your suffering and emotional distress.
At the Law Offices of Gary Bruce, We Listen
We know that personal injury law firms have a bad rap for being “ambulance chasers,” and that people who file lawsuits are often accused of being only out for the money. But when you’ve suffered a serious injury or traumatic experience, you know that’s not true at all. Your life has been upended, and all you want is for it to be put right! You just want a way to feel normal again, and you deserve to get it.
That’s what we do here at the Law Offices of Gary Bruce. It’s not all about the money; it’s about listening to victims of negligence in order to get them the justice and compensation they need to get back on track. And it’s why we offer free consultations to anyone whose suffered an injury through no fault of their own. If you’re in need of compensation, contact our firm today.